A look at "Lithuanian People" 0

Tomas Pabedinskas
www.kamane.lt, 2015-05-19

In brief: Exhibition at the Kaunas photography gallery, which created a stereotype-free context for understanding A. Sutkus photographs, reminds us that every "meeting" with a photography classics can be a new one without repeating the previous experiences. This possibility is also provided by the photography itself, which does not kill the captured moments with their clear interpretation.

Textbook-works exhibition can pose an intuitive feeling of boredom. But it is not caused by the work of art, which, probably, can never be completely "drained", but the viewer's consciousness, whose ability to experience the artwork is inhibited by an inexhaustible flow of reproductions and an unlimited possibilities of image dispersion. Art scene today often reminds of the world described by the media theorist Marshall McLuhan, in which one travels only to make sure that one or the other location looks exactly like in a photograph.

Existential questions, of course, have always been there - in the best works of A. Sutkus. But next to the existentialist component, in different contexts, other aspects of artist's works would often become visible: poetry in the early publications; the signs of the Soviet period constantly receiving attention in the Western art scene or our own daily life of the past that seems exotic now. Meanwhile, it seems that the exhibition organized in Kaunas offers to move from the contexts and historical circumstances to the photography itself, from the interpretations of appearance to the essence of the photographs, which has to be felt not only in the visible reflection of reality, but also in the deep black-colored tones of original prints.

The movement of humanistic photography reached our country from the West and because of different historical circumstances acquired distinctive features but had not lost its essence. Lithuanian photographers, like the most famous humanist photographers of the West focused their attention on ordinary people. They tried to capture instant, as it seemed, manifestations of universal and eternal human nature. It is no coincidence that Margarita Matulytė calls A. Sutkus a "hopeless humanist."

However, the polysemy seen in the works of A. Sutkus and emotional nuances do not allow to succumb to a simplified view of the development of Lithuanian photography. Humanist photography represented by this author's works cannot be equated with easily read metaphors of universal human experiences, that dominate the Western "human family" album. It should not also be equated with national identity that is characteristic of only Lithuanian photography. A. Sutkus view of the world is no doubt humanistic, but at the same time it is free of photographic clichés formed by this worldview.

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